Dissociated thoughts for the holidays


With the semester ending, the election long over, who would have thought we would run out of things to talk about this quickly? The same seems to be happening to the news media. With pretty much most of the non-BS cabinet positions announced, the almighty media seems to be talking about 2012 as if it matters. For those who missed it, go to MSNBC or CNN.com and look somewhere in between that story about the latest episode of "Survivor" and the Associated Press bit about the Canadian government self-destructing.

At first, I was thrilled to not hear about the same major Christmas filler story from the last two holiday seasons regarding the so-called war on Christmas. I figured we were not hearing it anymore because there were no more elections worth preparing for with the right-wing base scaring exercises.

That was before I stumbled upon a news article this year about some mega-stores struggling to achieve the balance between the use of the words "Christmas" and "holidays" in their holiday season promotions. We're getting this garbage again?

There are some things that really should go without saying, but in our current media culture, sadly, nothing goes without saying. There is no war on Christmas. Maybe I'm telling this to the wrong audience, since pundits will continue to generate noise over this faux controversy. Understandably, perpetuating this manufactured conflict will continue to sell "Just say Merry Christmas" wrist bands and John Gibson's book. It's the gift of tremendously disproportionate backlash that keeps on giving.

It's more than okay to refer to Christmas, the specific holiday, as Christmas. But referring to the season as the holiday season is not some grand atheist media scheme to secularize the Mass of Christ. I hate to break it to some who have not realized this, but apparently, there are some several other holidays happening around the same time, like the one with uh … you know … the candles and tops.

It's amazing how some have implied that the "holiday-ization" of Xmas — which is a legitimate abbreviation, by the way, look it up on Snopes.com — is somehow a greater threat to our pseudo-mythic traditional values than the commercialism that has still gotten more potent despite our current economic hardships.

Our media has already defined our holiday season within the context of the newly media-certified recession. Despite the death-by-Black Friday story that was picked up on, the narrative remained that people are buying less from retailers because of the economic mess. This angle happens only because we have been led to believe, despite the relative lack of consumption, this is the consumption season nonetheless.

Oh yeah, I remember now. That holiday is Hanukkah.

Speaking of non-Christmas holidays, can you believe half the stuff that happened in 2008? With the election to cover, we didn't get to hear too much about shark attacks or missing rich women. China had its coming-out party this year. Fidel Castro stepped down so Raul Castro can rule Cuba. Political storms happened in Myamar and Thailand. The economy tanked around the world. And OH MY GOD, BARACK OBAMA WAS ELECTED PRESIDENT. Sure, I know I'm forgetting a lot of stuff, and we still got a month to go, but did anything else really happen?

Don't burden yourself with a stupid question. Good luck on finals and have a Happy Holidays.

Roger Sheng is a Rutgers College senior majoring in political science and journalism and media studies. His column, "The Echo Chamber," runs on alternate Mondays.


Roger Sheng

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